In so many ways I sought myself through other people, searching for someone to mirror back some understanding, acceptance, a place for me to rest for a few moments. Blending into another is hard to notice, hard to capture why I didn’t feel settled at the end of a shared day.
What I found was not what I intended; somewhere I had become the mirror, acting back what was given, shared, creating agreements and likeness where maybe there was none. I said things were okay that weren’t okay, because I wasn’t. I didn’t know what I was doing so I didn’t know why I was tense and tired. There are other words for this focus on the other; fawning, placating, pandering, people pleasing.
It takes energy to bend into ways you didn’t grow in, to mimic another’s preferences that aren’t your own means to be forever stretched and trying. Living outside your own self is surviving in a climate that you aren’t accustomed to, the thin air making it hard to fill your lungs with someone else’s share of oxygen.
It took me a very long time to understand that survival in any form does not feel good. If you have ever felt invisible, being seen seems worth the price of admission into a venue where for a moment or two, you belong. When you add technology, social media, texting and email, life can become a funhouse of possibility, the myriad ways to be seen and noticed revolving into a frenzy of shifting likes around the flickering fluorescent need that stays the same.
The need stays the same as you bend into ways to fill it, and it doesn’t ever work. There’s the truth; it doesn’t work because it wasn’t meant to work forever. Survival responses are born as a means to keep you alive, then. The same tactics, so necessary at the time, can keep you from living, now.
The best way to know why you do something is to stop doing it, even for a moment. Notice when you fight, leave, freeze and please. It could be the reason you are tired is because you have been doing it for so long. When you look back across your own life, you might see what helped you survive until now was never other peoples’ reflection; what brought you through these shifting floors and tilting hallways was you, always you.